Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Real People Vs. Potential Fetus
The has an article today illustrating, once again, that some people care more about (potential) fetuses than they do real, actual people.

A full year after the House passed legislation that would loosen President Bush's restrictions on human embryonic stem cell research, the Senate is coming under intense pressure to tackle the controversial bill -- in the awkward new context of an election year.

The legislation, which Bush has repeatedly threatened to veto, would allow the National Institutes of Health to fund research on human embryos slated for destruction at fertility clinics. It is backed by science and patient-advocacy groups, and was endorsed by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) last summer, when momentum behind the research was at a peak.

But the political calculus around stem cells has changed in unexpected ways since then, raising questions about how Frist can fulfill his promises to bring the bill to a vote without weakening his appeal to conservatives as he considers a 2008 presidential run.

Opponents of the research note that its most promising advances, reported last year from South Korea, were recently found to have been faked -- a revelation that has stoked critics' claims that the medical potential of embryonic cells has long been hyped.

Also unexpected a year ago was the recent blossoming of independently funded embryonic stem cell research programs at universities.

"We're seeing private funding come up, and, of course, states have stepped up in various ways," said David Prentice, a senior fellow with the conservative Family Research Council, which opposes the House bill. "I don't know that there is a big need for a huge infusion of NIH money."

But proponents -- including several congressional leaders and ailing patients who plan a news event this morning to mark the first anniversary of the House bill's passage -- are expressing impatience with Frist's repeated delays.

It’s obvious that the country supports stem-cell research, but that doesn’t mean that some politicians won’t pander to their donors (read: small right-wing fringe groups). There are times when you must ignore your donors and actually approve things that are good for the country. There is no reason why America should be a second class scientific citizen in the world, but we will be if we allow these fringe groups to direct policy.

Perhaps we should get Hollywood to make another fictional movie about Jesus, that way the right-wingers will be so busy protesting, they won’t even notice stem cell research.


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